The Project Gutenberg ebook of Emma, by Jane Austen

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It may be possible to do without dancing entirely. Instances have been known
of young people passing many, many months successively, without being at any
ball of any description, and no material injury accrue either to body or mind;—
but  when  a  beginning  is  made—when  the  felicities  of  rapid  motion  have  once
been,  though  slightly,  felt—it  must  be  a  very  heavy  set  that  does  not  ask  for
Frank Churchill had danced once at Highbury, and longed to dance again; and
the last half-hour of an evening which Mr. Woodhouse was persuaded to spend
with his daughter at Randalls, was passed by the two young people in schemes
on the subject. Frank's was the first idea; and his the greatest zeal in pursuing it;
for  the  lady  was  the  best  judge  of  the  difficulties,  and  the  most  solicitous  for
accommodation  and  appearance.  But  still  she  had  inclination  enough  for
shewing  people  again  how  delightfully  Mr.  Frank  Churchill  and  Miss
Woodhouse  danced—for  doing  that  in  which  she  need  not  blush  to  compare
herself with Jane Fairfax—and even for simple dancing itself, without any of the
wicked aids of vanity—to assist him first in pacing out the room they were in to
see  what  it  could  be  made  to  hold—and  then  in  taking  the  dimensions  of  the
other  parlour,  in  the  hope  of  discovering,  in  spite  of  all  that  Mr.  Weston  could
say of their exactly equal size, that it was a little the largest.
His first proposition and request, that the dance begun at Mr. Cole's should be
finished there—that the same party should be collected, and the same musician
engaged,  met  with  the  readiest  acquiescence.  Mr.  Weston  entered  into  the  idea
with thorough enjoyment, and Mrs. Weston most willingly undertook to play as
long as they could wish to dance; and the interesting employment had followed,
of  reckoning  up  exactly  who  there  would  be,  and  portioning  out  the
indispensable division of space to every couple.
“You and Miss Smith, and Miss Fairfax, will be three, and the two Miss Coxes
five,” had been repeated many times over. “And there will be the two Gilberts,
young Cox, my father, and myself, besides Mr. Knightley. Yes, that will be quite
enough for pleasure. You and Miss Smith, and Miss Fairfax, will be three, and
the two Miss Coxes five; and for five couple there will be plenty of room.”
But soon it came to be on one side,
“But  will  there  be  good  room  for  five  couple?—I  really  do  not  think  there

On another,
“And after all, five couple are not enough to make it worth while to stand up.
Five  couple  are  nothing,  when  one  thinks  seriously  about  it.  It  will  not  do  to
invite five couple. It can be allowable only as the thought of the moment.”
Somebody  said  that  Miss  Gilbert  was  expected  at  her  brother's,  and  must  be
invited  with  the  rest.  Somebody  else  believed  Mrs.  Gilbert  would  have  danced
the other evening, if she had been asked. A word was put in for a second young
Cox;  and  at  last,  Mr.  Weston  naming  one  family  of  cousins  who  must  be
included,  and  another  of  very  old  acquaintance  who  could  not  be  left  out,  it
became  a  certainty  that  the  five  couple  would  be  at  least  ten,  and  a  very
interesting speculation in what possible manner they could be disposed of.
The doors of the two rooms were just opposite each other. “Might not they use
both rooms, and dance across the passage?” It seemed the best scheme; and yet it
was not so good but that many of them wanted a better. Emma said it would be
awkward;  Mrs.  Weston  was  in  distress  about  the  supper;  and  Mr.  Woodhouse
opposed  it  earnestly,  on  the  score  of  health.  It  made  him  so  very  unhappy,
indeed, that it could not be persevered in.
“Oh! no,” said he; “it would be the extreme of imprudence. I could not bear it
for  Emma!—Emma  is  not  strong.  She  would  catch  a  dreadful  cold.  So  would
poor little Harriet. So you would all. Mrs. Weston, you would be quite laid up;
do  not  let  them  talk  of  such  a  wild  thing.  Pray  do  not  let  them  talk  of  it.  That
young man (speaking lower) is very thoughtless. Do not tell his father, but that
young man is not quite the thing. He has been opening the doors very often this
evening, and keeping them open very inconsiderately. He does not think of the
draught.  I  do  not  mean  to  set  you  against  him,  but  indeed  he  is  not  quite  the
Mrs. Weston was sorry for such a charge. She knew the importance of it, and
said  every  thing  in  her  power  to  do  it  away.  Every  door  was  now  closed,  the
passage  plan  given  up,  and  the  first  scheme  of  dancing  only  in  the  room  they
were in resorted to again; and with such good-will on Frank Churchill's part, that
the  space  which  a  quarter  of  an  hour  before  had  been  deemed  barely  sufficient
for five couple, was now endeavoured to be made out quite enough for ten.
“We  were  too  magnificent,”  said  he.  “We  allowed  unnecessary  room.  Ten
couple may stand here very well.”
Emma  demurred.  “It  would  be  a  crowd—a  sad  crowd;  and  what  could  be
worse than dancing without space to turn in?”

“Very  true,”  he  gravely  replied;  “it  was  very  bad.”  But  still  he  went  on
measuring, and still he ended with,
“I think there will be very tolerable room for ten couple.”
“No,  no,”  said  she,  “you  are  quite  unreasonable.  It  would  be  dreadful  to  be
standing so close! Nothing can be farther from pleasure than to be dancing in a
crowd—and a crowd in a little room!”
“There is no denying it,” he replied. “I agree with you exactly. A crowd in a
little  room—Miss  Woodhouse,  you  have  the  art  of  giving  pictures  in  a  few
words. Exquisite, quite exquisite!—Still, however, having proceeded so far, one
is unwilling to give the matter up. It would be a disappointment to my father—
and  altogether—I  do  not  know  that—I  am  rather  of  opinion  that  ten  couple
might stand here very well.”
Emma  perceived  that  the  nature  of  his  gallantry  was  a  little  self-willed,  and
that he would rather oppose than lose the pleasure of dancing with her; but she
took the compliment, and forgave the rest. Had she intended ever to marry him,
it might have been worth while to pause and consider, and try to understand the
value of his preference, and the character of his temper; but for all the purposes
of their acquaintance, he was quite amiable enough.
Before  the  middle  of  the  next  day,  he  was  at  Hartfield;  and  he  entered  the
room with such an agreeable smile as certified the continuance of the scheme. It
soon appeared that he came to announce an improvement.
“Well, Miss Woodhouse,” he almost immediately began, “your inclination for
dancing has not been quite frightened away, I hope, by the terrors of my father's
little  rooms.  I  bring  a  new  proposal  on  the  subject:—a  thought  of  my  father's,
which waits only your approbation to be acted upon. May I hope for the honour
of your hand for the two first dances of this little projected ball, to be given, not
at Randalls, but at the Crown Inn?”
“The Crown!”
“Yes; if you and Mr. Woodhouse see no objection, and I trust you cannot, my
father  hopes  his  friends  will  be  so  kind  as  to  visit  him  there.  Better
accommodations, he can promise them, and not a less grateful welcome than at
Randalls.  It  is  his  own  idea.  Mrs.  Weston  sees  no  objection  to  it,  provided  you
are satisfied. This is what we all feel. Oh! you were perfectly right! Ten couple,
in  either  of  the  Randalls  rooms,  would  have  been  insufferable!—Dreadful!—I
felt  how  right  you  were  the  whole  time,  but  was  too  anxious  for  securing  any
thing  to  like  to  yield.  Is  not  it  a  good  exchange?—You  consent—I  hope  you

“It appears to me a plan that nobody can object to, if Mr. and Mrs. Weston do
not.  I  think  it  admirable;  and,  as  far  as  I  can  answer  for  myself,  shall  be  most
happy—It seems the only improvement that could be. Papa, do you not think it
an excellent improvement?”
She  was  obliged  to  repeat  and  explain  it,  before  it  was  fully  comprehended;
and  then,  being  quite  new,  farther  representations  were  necessary  to  make  it
“No;  he  thought  it  very  far  from  an  improvement—a  very  bad  plan—much
worse than the other. A room at an inn was always damp and dangerous; never
properly aired, or fit to be inhabited. If they must dance, they had better dance at
Randalls. He had never been in the room at the Crown in his life—did not know
the  people  who  kept  it  by  sight.—Oh!  no—a  very  bad  plan.  They  would  catch
worse colds at the Crown than anywhere.”
“I  was  going  to  observe,  sir,”  said  Frank  Churchill,  “that  one  of  the  great
recommendations  of  this  change  would  be  the  very  little  danger  of  any  body's
catching  cold—so  much  less  danger  at  the  Crown  than  at  Randalls!  Mr.  Perry
might have reason to regret the alteration, but nobody else could.”
“Sir,”  said  Mr.  Woodhouse,  rather  warmly,  “you  are  very  much  mistaken  if
you  suppose  Mr.  Perry  to  be  that  sort  of  character.  Mr.  Perry  is  extremely
concerned when any of us are ill. But I do not understand how the room at the
Crown can be safer for you than your father's house.”
“From the very circumstance of its being larger, sir. We shall have no occasion
to open the windows at all—not once the whole evening; and it is that dreadful
habit of opening the windows, letting in cold air upon heated bodies, which (as
you well know, sir) does the mischief.”
“Open  the  windows!—but  surely,  Mr.  Churchill,  nobody  would  think  of
opening the windows at Randalls. Nobody could be so imprudent! I never heard
of such a thing. Dancing with open windows!—I am sure, neither your father nor
Mrs. Weston (poor Miss Taylor that was) would suffer it.”
“Ah!  sir—but  a  thoughtless  young  person  will  sometimes  step  behind  a
window-curtain,  and  throw  up  a  sash,  without  its  being  suspected.  I  have  often
known it done myself.”
“Have you indeed, sir?—Bless me! I never could have supposed it. But I live
out  of  the  world,  and  am  often  astonished  at  what  I  hear.  However,  this  does
make a difference; and, perhaps, when we come to talk it over—but these sort of
things require a good deal of consideration. One cannot resolve upon them in a
hurry. If Mr. and Mrs. Weston will be so obliging as to call here one morning, we

may talk it over, and see what can be done.”
“But, unfortunately, sir, my time is so limited—”
“Oh!” interrupted Emma, “there will be plenty of time for talking every thing
over. There is no hurry at all. If it can be contrived to be at the Crown, papa, it
will be very convenient for the horses. They will be so near their own stable.”
“So they will, my dear. That is a great thing. Not that James ever complains;
but it is right to spare our horses when we can. If I could be sure of the rooms
being  thoroughly  aired—but  is  Mrs.  Stokes  to  be  trusted?  I  doubt  it.  I  do  not
know her, even by sight.”
“I can answer for every thing of that nature, sir, because it will be under Mrs.
Weston's care. Mrs. Weston undertakes to direct the whole.”
“There, papa!—Now you must be satisfied—Our own dear Mrs. Weston, who
is carefulness itself. Do not you remember what Mr. Perry said, so many years
ago, when I had the measles? 'If Miss Taylor undertakes to wrap Miss Emma up,
you need not have any fears, sir.' How often have I heard you speak of it as such
a compliment to her!”
“Aye, very true. Mr. Perry did say so. I shall never forget it. Poor little Emma!
You were very bad with the measles; that is, you would have been very bad, but
for Perry's great attention. He came four times a day for a week. He said, from
the first, it was a very good sort—which was our great comfort; but the measles
are  a  dreadful  complaint.  I  hope  whenever  poor  Isabella's  little  ones  have  the
measles, she will send for Perry.”
“My  father  and  Mrs.  Weston  are  at  the  Crown  at  this  moment,”  said  Frank
Churchill,  “examining  the  capabilities  of  the  house.  I  left  them  there  and  came
on to Hartfield, impatient for your opinion, and hoping you might be persuaded
to join them and give your advice on the spot. I was desired to say so from both.
It  would  be  the  greatest  pleasure  to  them,  if  you  could  allow  me  to  attend  you
there. They can do nothing satisfactorily without you.”
Emma was most happy to be called to such a council; and her father, engaging
to  think  it  all  over  while  she  was  gone,  the  two  young  people  set  off  together
without delay for the Crown. There were Mr. and Mrs. Weston; delighted to see
her and receive her approbation, very busy and very happy in their different way;
she, in some little distress; and he, finding every thing perfect.
“Emma,” said she, “this paper is worse than I expected. Look! in places you
see it is dreadfully dirty; and the wainscot is more yellow and forlorn than any
thing I could have imagined.”

“My  dear,  you  are  too  particular,”  said  her  husband.  “What  does  all  that
signify? You will see nothing of it by candlelight. It will be as clean as Randalls
by candlelight. We never see any thing of it on our club-nights.”
The  ladies  here  probably  exchanged  looks  which  meant,  “Men  never  know
when  things  are  dirty  or  not;”  and  the  gentlemen  perhaps  thought  each  to
himself, “Women will have their little nonsenses and needless cares.”
One  perplexity,  however,  arose,  which  the  gentlemen  did  not  disdain.  It
regarded  a  supper-room.  At  the  time  of  the  ballroom's  being  built,  suppers  had
not  been  in  question;  and  a  small  card-room  adjoining,  was  the  only  addition.
What was to be done? This card-room would be wanted as a card-room now; or,
if cards were conveniently voted unnecessary by their four selves, still was it not
too small for any comfortable supper? Another room of much better size might
be secured for the purpose; but it was at the other end of the house, and a long
awkward passage must be gone through to get at it. This made a difficulty. Mrs.
Weston was afraid of draughts for the young people in that passage; and neither
Emma nor the gentlemen could tolerate the prospect of being miserably crowded
at supper.
Mrs. Weston proposed having no regular supper; merely sandwiches, &c., set
out in the little room; but that was scouted as a wretched suggestion. A private
dance, without sitting down to supper, was pronounced an infamous fraud upon
the rights of men and women; and Mrs. Weston must not speak of it again. She
then  took  another  line  of  expediency,  and  looking  into  the  doubtful  room,
“I do not think it is so very small. We shall not be many, you know.”
And Mr. Weston at the same time, walking briskly with long steps through the
passage, was calling out,
“You  talk  a  great  deal  of  the  length  of  this  passage,  my  dear.  It  is  a  mere
nothing after all; and not the least draught from the stairs.”
“I wish,” said Mrs. Weston, “one could know which arrangement our guests in
general would like best. To do what would be most generally pleasing must be
our object—if one could but tell what that would be.”
“Yes, very true,” cried Frank, “very true. You want your neighbours' opinions.
I do not wonder at you. If one could ascertain what the chief of them—the Coles,
for instance. They are not far off. Shall I call upon them? Or Miss Bates? She is
still  nearer.—And  I  do  not  know  whether  Miss  Bates  is  not  as  likely  to
understand the inclinations of the rest of the people as any body. I think we do
want a larger council. Suppose I go and invite Miss Bates to join us?”

“Well—if  you  please,”  said  Mrs.  Weston  rather  hesitating,  “if  you  think  she
will be of any use.”
“You will get nothing to the purpose from Miss Bates,” said Emma. “She will
be all delight and gratitude, but she will tell you nothing. She will not even listen
to your questions. I see no advantage in consulting Miss Bates.”
“But she is so amusing, so extremely amusing! I am very fond of hearing Miss
Bates talk. And I need not bring the whole family, you know.”
Here Mr. Weston joined them, and on hearing what was proposed, gave it his
decided approbation.
“Aye, do, Frank.—Go and fetch Miss Bates, and let us end the matter at once.
She will enjoy the scheme, I am sure; and I do not know a properer person for
shewing  us  how  to  do  away  difficulties.  Fetch  Miss  Bates.  We  are  growing  a
little too nice. She is a standing lesson of how to be happy. But fetch them both.
Invite them both.”
“Both sir! Can the old lady?”...
“The  old  lady!  No,  the  young  lady,  to  be  sure.  I  shall  think  you  a  great
blockhead, Frank, if you bring the aunt without the niece.”
“Oh!  I  beg  your  pardon,  sir.  I  did  not  immediately  recollect.  Undoubtedly  if
you wish it, I will endeavour to persuade them both.” And away he ran.
Long before he reappeared, attending the short, neat, brisk-moving aunt, and
her elegant niece,—Mrs. Weston, like a sweet-tempered woman and a good wife,
had examined the passage again, and found the evils of it much less than she had
supposed  before—indeed  very  trifling;  and  here  ended  the  difficulties  of
decision. All the rest, in speculation at least, was perfectly smooth. All the minor
arrangements  of  table  and  chair,  lights  and  music,  tea  and  supper,  made
themselves;  or  were  left  as  mere  trifles  to  be  settled  at  any  time  between  Mrs.
Weston and Mrs. Stokes.—Every body invited, was certainly to come; Frank had
already written to Enscombe to propose staying a few days beyond his fortnight,
which could not possibly be refused. And a delightful dance it was to be.
Most  cordially,  when  Miss  Bates  arrived,  did  she  agree  that  it  must.  As  a
counsellor she was not wanted; but as an approver, (a much safer character,) she
was  truly  welcome.  Her  approbation,  at  once  general  and  minute,  warm  and
incessant, could not but please; and for another half-hour they were all walking
to  and  fro,  between  the  different  rooms,  some  suggesting,  some  attending,  and
all in happy enjoyment of the future. The party did not break up without Emma's
being positively secured for the two first dances by the hero of the evening, nor
without her overhearing Mr. Weston whisper to his wife, “He has asked her, my

dear. That's right. I knew he would!”

One  thing  only  was  wanting  to  make  the  prospect  of  the  ball  completely
satisfactory to Emma—its being fixed for a day within the granted term of Frank
Churchill's stay in Surry; for, in spite of Mr. Weston's confidence, she could not
think  it  so  very  impossible  that  the  Churchills  might  not  allow  their  nephew  to
remain  a  day  beyond  his  fortnight.  But  this  was  not  judged  feasible.  The
preparations must take their time, nothing could be properly ready till the third
week were entered on, and for a few days they must be planning, proceeding and
hoping in uncertainty—at the risk—in her opinion, the great risk, of its being all
in vain.
Enscombe however was gracious, gracious in fact, if not in word. His wish of
staying longer evidently did not please; but it was not opposed. All was safe and
prosperous;  and  as  the  removal  of  one  solicitude  generally  makes  way  for
another,  Emma,  being  now  certain  of  her  ball,  began  to  adopt  as  the  next
vexation Mr. Knightley's provoking indifference about it. Either because he did
not  dance  himself,  or  because  the  plan  had  been  formed  without  his  being
consulted, he seemed resolved that it should not interest him, determined against
its exciting any present curiosity, or affording him any future amusement. To her
voluntary communications Emma could get no more approving reply, than,
“Very well. If the Westons think it worth while to be at all this trouble for a
few hours of noisy entertainment, I have nothing to say against it, but that they
shall not chuse pleasures for me.—Oh! yes, I must be there; I could not refuse;
and I will keep as much awake as I can; but I would rather be at home, looking
over  William  Larkins's  week's  account;  much  rather,  I  confess.—Pleasure  in
seeing dancing!—not I, indeed—I never look at it—I do not know who does.—
Fine  dancing,  I  believe,  like  virtue,  must  be  its  own  reward.  Those  who  are
standing by are usually thinking of something very different.”
This Emma felt was aimed at her; and it made her quite angry. It was not in
compliment to Jane Fairfax however that he was so indifferent, or so indignant;
he  was  not  guided  by  her  feelings  in  reprobating  the  ball,  for  she  enjoyed  the
thought of it to an extraordinary degree. It made her animated—open hearted—
she voluntarily said;—
“Oh! Miss Woodhouse, I hope nothing may happen to prevent the ball. What a
disappointment  it  would  be!  I  do  look  forward  to  it,  I  own,  with  very  great

It  was  not  to  oblige  Jane  Fairfax  therefore  that  he  would  have  preferred  the
society  of  William  Larkins.  No!—she  was  more  and  more  convinced  that  Mrs.
Weston  was  quite  mistaken  in  that  surmise.  There  was  a  great  deal  of  friendly
and of compassionate attachment on his side—but no love.
Alas! there was soon no leisure for quarrelling with Mr. Knightley. Two days
of joyful security were immediately followed by the over-throw of every thing.
A  letter  arrived  from  Mr.  Churchill  to  urge  his  nephew's  instant  return.  Mrs.
Churchill was unwell—far too unwell to do without him; she had been in a very
suffering  state  (so  said  her  husband)  when  writing  to  her  nephew  two  days
before, though from her usual unwillingness to give pain, and constant habit of
never  thinking  of  herself,  she  had  not  mentioned  it;  but  now  she  was  too  ill  to
trifle, and must entreat him to set off for Enscombe without delay.
The  substance  of  this  letter  was  forwarded  to  Emma,  in  a  note  from  Mrs.
Weston, instantly. As to his going, it was inevitable. He must be gone within a
few  hours,  though  without  feeling  any  real  alarm  for  his  aunt,  to  lessen  his
repugnance.  He  knew  her  illnesses;  they  never  occurred  but  for  her  own
Mrs.  Weston  added,  “that  he  could  only  allow  himself  time  to  hurry  to
Highbury, after breakfast, and take leave of the few friends there whom he could
suppose  to  feel  any  interest  in  him;  and  that  he  might  be  expected  at  Hartfield
very soon.”
This  wretched  note  was  the  finale  of  Emma's  breakfast.  When  once  it  had
been read, there was no doing any thing, but lament and exclaim. The loss of the
ball—the loss of the young man—and all that the young man might be feeling!
—It  was  too  wretched!—Such  a  delightful  evening  as  it  would  have  been!—
Every body so happy! and she and her partner the happiest!—“I said it would be
so,” was the only consolation.
Her  father's  feelings  were  quite  distinct.  He  thought  principally  of  Mrs.
Churchill's illness, and wanted to know how she was treated; and as for the ball,
it was shocking to have dear Emma disappointed; but they would all be safer at
Emma  was  ready  for  her  visitor  some  time  before  he  appeared;  but  if  this
reflected at all upon his impatience, his sorrowful look and total want of spirits
when he did come might redeem him. He felt the going away almost too much to
speak of it. His dejection was most evident. He sat really lost in thought for the
first few minutes; and when rousing himself, it was only to say,

“Of all horrid things, leave-taking is the worst.”
“But  you  will  come  again,”  said  Emma.  “This  will  not  be  your  only  visit  to
“Ah!—(shaking his head)—the uncertainty of when I may be able to return!—
I shall try for it with a zeal!—It will be the object of all my thoughts and cares!
—and  if  my  uncle  and  aunt  go  to  town  this  spring—but  I  am  afraid—they  did
not stir last spring—I am afraid it is a custom gone for ever.”
“Our poor ball must be quite given up.”
“Ah! that ball!—why did we wait for any thing?—why not seize the pleasure
at once?—How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!
—You  told  us  it  would  be  so.—Oh!  Miss  Woodhouse,  why  are  you  always  so
“Indeed, I am very sorry to be right in this instance. I would much rather have
been merry than wise.”
“If I can come again, we are still to have our ball. My father depends on it. Do
not forget your engagement.”
Emma looked graciously.
“Such a fortnight as it has been!” he continued; “every day more precious and
more delightful than the day before!—every day making me less fit to bear any
other place. Happy those, who can remain at Highbury!”
“As you do us such ample justice now,” said Emma, laughing, “I will venture
to  ask,  whether  you  did  not  come  a  little  doubtfully  at  first?  Do  not  we  rather
surpass your expectations? I am sure we do. I am sure you did not much expect
to like us. You would not have been so long in coming, if you had had a pleasant
idea of Highbury.”
He laughed rather consciously; and though denying the sentiment, Emma was
convinced that it had been so.
“And you must be off this very morning?”
“Yes; my father is to join me here: we shall walk back together, and I must be
off immediately. I am almost afraid that every moment will bring him.”
“Not five minutes to spare even for your friends Miss Fairfax and Miss Bates?
How  unlucky!  Miss  Bates's  powerful,  argumentative  mind  might  have
strengthened yours.”
“Yes—I have called there; passing the door, I thought it better. It was a right
thing to do. I went in for three minutes, and was detained by Miss Bates's being
absent. She was out; and I felt it impossible not to wait till she came in. She is a

woman  that  one  may,  that  one  must  laugh  at;  but  that  one  would  not  wish  to
slight. It was better to pay my visit, then”—
He hesitated, got up, walked to a window.
“In  short,”  said  he,  “perhaps,  Miss  Woodhouse—I  think  you  can  hardly  be
quite without suspicion”—
He looked at her, as if wanting to read her thoughts. She hardly knew what to
say. It seemed like the forerunner of something absolutely serious, which she did
not  wish.  Forcing  herself  to  speak,  therefore,  in  the  hope  of  putting  it  by,  she
calmly said,
“You are quite in the right; it was most natural to pay your visit, then”—
He was silent. She believed he was looking at her; probably reflecting on what
she  had  said,  and  trying  to  understand  the  manner.  She  heard  him  sigh.  It  was
natural for him to feel that he had cause to sigh. He could not believe her to be
encouraging him. A few awkward moments passed, and he sat down again; and
in a more determined manner said,
“It  was  something  to  feel  that  all  the  rest  of  my  time  might  be  given  to
Hartfield. My regard for Hartfield is most warm”—
He stopt again, rose again, and seemed quite embarrassed.—He was more in
love  with  her  than  Emma  had  supposed;  and  who  can  say  how  it  might  have
ended,  if  his  father  had  not  made  his  appearance?  Mr.  Woodhouse  soon
followed; and the necessity of exertion made him composed.
A very few minutes more, however, completed the present trial. Mr. Weston,
always alert when business was to be done, and as incapable of procrastinating
any evil that was inevitable, as of foreseeing any that was doubtful, said, “It was
time  to  go;”  and  the  young  man,  though  he  might  and  did  sigh,  could  not  but
agree, to take leave.
“I shall hear about you all,” said he; “that is my chief consolation. I shall hear
of  every  thing  that  is  going  on  among  you.  I  have  engaged  Mrs.  Weston  to
correspond with me. She has been so kind as to promise it. Oh! the blessing of a
female correspondent, when one is really interested in the absent!—she will tell
me every thing. In her letters I shall be at dear Highbury again.”
A  very  friendly  shake  of  the  hand,  a  very  earnest  “Good-bye,”  closed  the
speech,  and  the  door  had  soon  shut  out  Frank  Churchill.  Short  had  been  the
notice—short  their  meeting;  he  was  gone;  and  Emma  felt  so  sorry  to  part,  and
foresaw so great a loss to their little society from his absence as to begin to be
afraid of being too sorry, and feeling it too much.

It  was  a  sad  change.  They  had  been  meeting  almost  every  day  since  his
arrival.  Certainly  his  being  at  Randalls  had  given  great  spirit  to  the  last  two
weeks—indescribable spirit; the idea, the expectation of seeing him which every
morning had brought, the assurance of his attentions, his liveliness, his manners!
It had been a very happy fortnight, and forlorn must be the sinking from it into
the common course of Hartfield days. To complete every other recommendation,
he  had  almost  told  her  that  he  loved  her.  What  strength,  or  what  constancy  of
affection he might be subject to, was another point; but at present she could not
doubt  his  having  a  decidedly  warm  admiration,  a  conscious  preference  of
herself; and this persuasion, joined to all the rest, made her think that she must
be a little in love with him, in spite of every previous determination against it.
“I  certainly  must,”  said  she.  “This  sensation  of  listlessness,  weariness,
stupidity, this disinclination to sit down and employ myself, this feeling of every
thing's being dull and insipid about the house!— I must be in love; I should be
the  oddest  creature  in  the  world  if  I  were  not—for  a  few  weeks  at  least.  Well!
evil to some is always good to others. I shall have many fellow-mourners for the
ball, if not for Frank Churchill; but Mr. Knightley will be happy. He may spend
the evening with his dear William Larkins now if he likes.”
Mr.  Knightley,  however,  shewed  no  triumphant  happiness.  He  could  not  say
that  he  was  sorry  on  his  own  account;  his  very  cheerful  look  would  have
contradicted him if he had; but he said, and very steadily, that he was sorry for
the disappointment of the others, and with considerable kindness added,
“You, Emma, who have so few opportunities of dancing, you are really out of
luck; you are very much out of luck!”
It was some days before she saw Jane Fairfax, to judge of her honest regret in
this woeful change; but when they did meet, her composure was odious. She had
been  particularly  unwell,  however,  suffering  from  headache  to  a  degree,  which
made her aunt declare, that had the ball taken place, she did not think Jane could
have  attended  it;  and  it  was  charity  to  impute  some  of  her  unbecoming
indifference to the languor of ill-health.

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